The most recent episode in the long-running Punch and Judy show between Sarah Palin and Karl Rove is shedding light on the schism between old-school Republicans and the Tea Party insurgents who are steadily pushing them aside. It appears it is not merely Palin’s personal antipathy to Rove that drives her spleen but a contempt for the dark arts he employs.
It is no surprise, perhaps, that the anti-intellectualism that underpins many of the Tea Party’s most absurd and offensive stances – the insistence that evidence of global warming is invented; the notion that women who are raped do not conceive; the belief that Darwin’s theory of evolution is contradicted by the Bible; the failure to understand that all economics is Keynesian; and so on – also informs Palin’s assault on the science practiced by Rove and every other established political strategist around the world.
In a zinger directed at Rove, Palin blamed Mitt Romney’s defeat on the “top-down political process” directed by a “permanent political class” in “permanent political mode” in Washington that is “busy worrying about their own political future.” “Now is the time to furlough the consultants, and tune-out the pollsters, send the focus groups home and throw out the political scripts, because if we truly know what we believe, we don’t need professionals to tell us,” she declared.
This is more than a cheap snipe at Rove, whom Palin does not finger by name but alludes to as “The Architect,” the nickname given him by George W. Bush, though neither, it seems, had in mind the unbending, egomaniacal hero of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, who would rather plant a bomb in a building than let a client make design suggestions. It is a full frontal assault on cogent thought.
Palin, who announced to CPAC of all audiences that it is “time we all stopped preaching to the choir,” should give more credit to a fellow conservative who contributed so much to ensuring that Bush – who has become a bugaboo whose name is barely mentioned during this bloody GOP postmortem – won two terms. She may learn something. In a climate where no postwar Republican president, not even the conservative saint Ronald Reagan, could survive a GOP presidential primary today, the party is plainly undergoing a fundamental transformation that, if the heat of the argument raging is anything to go by, has yet to reach its nadir.